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February 4, 2013

Fallin calls for smaller tax cut in State of the State address

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) —

The governor wants lawmakers to approve $18.5 million in supplemental funding this year, including $10 million to begin repairs on the Capitol’s crumbling exterior facade and $8.5 million to help pay for health benefits for public school teachers and education employees.

“The Capitol is a symbol of our state, a place of business and a living museum dedicated to preserving Oklahoma history, literature and artwork,” Fallin said in prepared remarks. “It is not right for visitors to be greeted at this building by construction cones, crumbling facades and a faulty sewer system.”

Fallin’s executive budget calls for increased funding for education of about $13.5 million and major boosts in spending for the state’s Medicaid and and child welfare programs. Her proposal includes $40 million in funding next year for an increase in the number of Medicaid-eligible Oklahomans who are expected to enroll in the program and another $40 million to the Department of Human Services for improvements to the state’s child welfare system.

“For years, care for these children has been inadequate,” Fallin said in her remarks.

Fallin devoted much of her remarks to issues of health care, criticizing the federal health care plan’s expansion of Medicaid, which she called “unaffordable for the country at a time when we are already experiencing a long-term spending crisis.”

Fallin gave support to a proposal to allow Oklahoma cities to enact tougher smoking bans in public places. Doing so would address “the state’s number one killer: tobacco,” Fallin said, and save taxpayer money by lowering health costs and lost productivity.

State law currently bans smoking in many public places and indoor workplaces but prohibits cities from adopting their own smoking bans.

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Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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